Refuting Sam Shamoun's Arguments Against The Monotheism of Islam: Part 6
Rebuttal to Sam Shamoun's Article "Islam and the prayers of Allah: An examination of the worship and praise which Allah performs"
[Introduction, Sami Zaatari's Rebuttals to Shamoun, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6, Part 7, Part 8, Part 9, Part 10, Part 11, Part 12, Tawassul in Christianity]
We encourage the reader to first read Shamoun's article over here.
The Arabic word Salah means different things depending upon whom is doing the Salah and upon whom the Salah is being made. The meaning also changes depending on the context in which it is being used. Lisaan Al Arab, arguably the most authoritative Arabic dictionary states that Salah has various meanings. For instance, in certain contexts when it is human beings doing the Salah it could specifically be referring to the five daily prayers and nothing else. It could also sometimes be referring to sending one's blessings upon someone. When it is the angels doing the Salah it could mean that they are making supplications. When it is Allah doing the Salah it could mean that He is exerting His mercy on someone (Ibn Manzur, Lisaan Al Arab, Volume 14, page 464; under the word صفا )
Muhammad bin Abdur Rahman al Sakhawi on pages 51-55 of his book Al Qawl al Badee' fil Salati 'ala al Habeeb al Shafee' (The Wonderful Saying in Sending Salah on the Beloved Intercessor), which is a standard reference regarding the subject of sending Salah on the Prophet (peace be upon him) provides linguistic evidences and cites early Islamic scholarship in order to establish that Salah could refer to different meanings in regards to the subject offering it. He argues that Salah could mean praise (as in compliment and not homage in the form of worship, for the Arabic word used is ثلاء), forgiveness, mercy, purification, etc. When angels do Salah it means that they could either be sending blessings, making supplication or seeking forgiveness. When human beings do it could either mean supplication, glorification, or performing the daily prayers, etc.
So when Allah does Salah it becomes obvious to us that He isn't worshipping, but either exerting mercy, sending blessings, etc. (it all depends on context) and we know this because
1) We read the Qur'an in its context and since we know that Allah is God it is obvious He isn't worshipping anyone
2) If the text actually did say that we would have expected Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) to have taught this to his companions, yet not a single companion or reputable Islamic scholar in the past has ever taken such a position.
Shamoun cites Surah 1:1-7, 30:18, 39:73-75 & 64:1 to show that all praise must only be given to Allah and then asks why Muhammad (peace be upon him) is receiving praise.
First thing to note is that the actual Arabic text of the Qur'an does not say ALL praise is due to Allah in any of those verses. They only say that praise is due to Allah. Hence, I believe that Pickthall, Yusuf Ali, Arberyy, Palmer, Rodwell & Sale translate the verses in question more accurately.
However, let us assume that the Qur'an did say that all praise must be due to Allah. We must understand those verses then in their proper context. We would then have to understand that 'praise' in this context refers to homage in words as an act of worship as opposed to praising human beings by commending and complimenting them. Any sincere exegete would have to understand those verses to mean it like that.
In fact, Allah even recites chapters from the Quran like Muslims do in their prayers!
Allah's Messenger said, "A thousand years before creating the heavens and the Earth, Allah RECITED Ta-Ha and Ya-Sin, and when the angels HEARD the recitation they said, 'Happy are the people to whom this comes down, happy are the minds which carry this, and happy are the tongues which utter this." Darimi transmitted it (At-Tirmidhi Hadith, Number 660 - taken from ALIM CD-ROM Version; bold and capital emphasis ours)
And since the Quran depicts Allah praying by using the very same words which denote praise, worship and glorification Allah must therefore be praising, glorifying, worshiping etc. himself and/or someone else.
First of all, this narration is weak because the chain of transmission contains Muhajir bin Mismaar and his Shaykh Umar bin Hafs bin Zhikwaan who have both been deemed as weak narrators.
Secondly, let us assume that this narration is authentic, how on earth does this show that Allah is worshipping someone else? Does Shamoun forget that Muslims believe that Allah spoke the entire Qur'an Himself? So when the Qur'an tells us how to worship Allah and other things, we believe that Allah spoke these words. He didn't speak them in order for Him to implement those acts, but for us to do so.
Allah's prayers consist of praising his slaves such as Muhammad before the angels in heaven!
Ibn Kathir's statements also imply that Allah is actually praying to his angels since he is directly addressing them when he prays and invokes praises upon his servants!
I fail to see Shamoun's logic. How does Allah commending Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the presence of the angels indicate that Allah is worshipping the angels? I also need to bring it to Shamoun's attention that the fatwa he is citing uses the English word "praise", which could be misleading since it could mean two different things as I explained earlier. Since the fatwas on islam-qa are originally in Arabic, I went to the original fatwa in Arabic (here) and saw that the Shaykh used the Arabic word ثلاء , which means that this is the form of praise that is not worship, but simply that of commendation and compliment. So the opinion is that Allah praises the Prophet (peace be upon him) in terms of commending Him and not worshipping Him. That is something that Shamoun hasn't dealt with.
Shamoun later on in his article tries to argue that Salah could not mean mercy or blessings because in certain contexts the word Salah is distinguished from mercy and blessings. But Shamoun is attacking strawman, since not everyone said that Allah's Salah always means mercy or sending blessings. It needs to be examined in context.
As usual, we conclude that Shamoun has failed to prove his case.
Return to Refuting Sam Shamoun
Return to Homepage